Gender, power and resistance to change among two communities in the Western Cape, South Africa

SOURCE: Feminism & Psychology
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2008
TITLE AUTHOR(S): T.Shefer, M.Crawford, A.Strebel, L.C.Simbayi, N.Dwadwa-Henda, A.Cloete, M.R.Kaufman, S.C.Kalichman
KEYWORDS: GENDER EQUALITY, HIV/AIDS, IDENTITY, MASCULINITY, SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR, WESTERN CAPE PROVINCE
DEPARTMENT: Social Aspects of Public Health (SAPH)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 5276

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Abstract

This study investigates how women and men in the Western Cape, South Africa, construct their gender identities and roles. As part of the development of an HIV prevention intervention for men, key informant interviews and focus group discussions were conducted. Several themes regarding the construction of gender were identified. First, participants reported that traditional gender relations of male dominance and female subservience were still in evidence, along with traditional gender roles that mandated a division of labour between the household and paid workforce. Second, participants reported a shift in gender roles and relations in the direction of increased power for women. Last, hostile resistance to changes in gender power relations was evident in the discussions. Redefining masculinity and femininity and shifting gender relations in the direction of 'power with' instead of 'power over' is perhaps a necessary prelude to lasting social change and curbing the HIV epidemic in South Africa.